Monday 23rd July, 2018
Today details of the Green Parties free youth counselling policy, for those aged 18 – 25, was announced. The pilot funding has been outlined and requests for tender are now invited.
The pilot looks to draw on overseas examples, most notably the “Improved Access to Psychological Therapies” or “IAPT” programme in the UK, which has seen therapy and counselling made available nationwide for mild to moderate mental health problems.
The provision of free counselling for youth was an election policy of the Green Party, and it was part of their confidence and supply agreement with the Government.
“It’s great to see this pilot get underway” says Kyle MacDonald, psychotherapist and campaigner behind the Free Counselling Open Submission to the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction. “Nationwide we continue to hear horror stories of long wait lists, and of people being unable to afford private therapy, meaning many with mild to moderate depression and anxiety are simply going untreated. This is a lifesaving service, and it can’t come to soon.”
The three year pilot looks to explore how the IAPT approach can be modified to best suit New Zealander’s, and as well as funding for treatment it also recognises the need to develop the workforce to provide the service nationwide.
“We know that counselling and talk therapy is the most effective treatment option for mild to moderate mental health needs. This represents a real commitment by the Green Party to ensure access for all young people. My only criticism of this programme is it doesn’t go far enough. Nationwide free counselling for all Kiwi’s of all ages - which I’ve dubbed ‘KiwiTalk’ - must be the next step, and without doubt such a service would be revolutionary and lifesaving.” Says MacDonald
The procurement process is now open, with the Government looking for a provider who can provide the psychological therapies, as well as determining the geographical location the pilot will run.
Background: Kyle MacDonald was one of the initiators of the People’s Mental Health Review, along with Mike King and Action Station. He started an Open Submission to the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction calling for Free Counselling for all Kiwi’s. It has just under 5000 signatures and will be submitted to the Inquiry early August.
For more see: www.freecounselling.nz